Given the limited amount of contact during rookie minicamp, it’s hard for coaches to get an accurate sense of the quality of play at many positions.
As Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter noted, hard-hitters are at a disadvantage, as are offensive linemen, who are practicing blocking schemes against no opposition. The three-day, introductory-like camp, Koetter said, is more to see who can learn fast and show proper footwork.
“There is just so much teaching going on when it goes this fast,” Koetter said. “We’re just trying to help these guys so they can function in practice. If the guys don’t know what they’re doing, you have to give them their best chance to put their best foot forward. Until they do that they can’t really show what they got.”
Despite the lighter workload – 90-minute practice instead of 2-hours – and restricted tackling, players are anxious to hit the field and get an opportunity. Of the 51 guys on the rookie-camp roster, only seven were drafted and just 20 were priority free agents in 2015 and 2016. Twenty-four players are on a tryout basis, auditioning for an improbable job with the Bucs or another team.
As such, these practices might be the most competitive practices all offseason.
“These guys – they know what’s at stake,” Koetter said. “You’ve got 51 guys for probably 19 spots on the 90-man roster, so there is a lot at stake. These guys are hungry and they show it. They’re definitely spinning, but these guys – again I can’t say enough. When we were out here for the walkthrough this morning, they were ready to go, they had their ears pinned back.
“They’re eager to please, but we have to be careful. We don’t want anyone to get hurt out there.”
While likely fewer than 15 percent of the players out there will make the final 53-man roster (some will sign to the practice squad), Koetter, who had the most involvement in this draft as a head coach than any other draft in his career as an OC, has been impressed with the players who didn’t hear their name called through seven rounds.
“Exciting not only to see the draft picks, but the free agents and the tryout guys,” Koetter said. “It’s always amazing the level of talent that’s out there that doesn’t get drafted. It really is impressive.”
The Bucs resume rookie minicamp Saturday at 2 p.m.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he’s handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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Good luck guys!
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